Tuesday, April 3, 2012

பழம்பெரும் நடிகை எம்.சரோஜா மரணம்!

பழம்பெரும் நடிகை சரோஜா மரணம்! 

மறைந்த பழம்பெரும் நடிகர் தங்கவேலுவின் மனைவியும், நடிகையுமான எம்.சரோஜா மணரம் அடைந்தார். அவருக்கு வயது 82.

Vetrean actress saroja passes away

கல்யாணப்பரிசு, அரசிளம் குமரி, வணங்காமுடி உள்ளிட்ட பல்வேறு படங்களில் நடித்தவர் நடிகை எம்.சரோஜா. தன்னுடைய 14 வயது முதலே மேடை நாடகங்களில் நடிக்க தொடங்கிய சரோஜா தமிழ், தெலுங்கு, கன்னடம் உள்ளிட்ட மொழிகளில் 300க்கும் ‌மேற்பட்ட படங்களில் நடித்துள்ளார். 

மேடை நாடகங்களில் நடித்து வந்‌த போதே, நடிகர் தங்கவேலுவை காதலித்து மணந்து கொண்டார். தங்கவேலு மறைவுக்கு பின்னர் சென்னை தி.நகரில் வசித்து வந்த ‌சரோஜாவுக்கு கடந்த சில மாதங்களாகவே உடல்நலக் குறைவு ஏற்பட்டது. இந்நிலையில் நேற்று(02.04.12) மாலை அவர் மரணம் அடைந்தார். 

மறைந்த சரோஜாவின் உடல் அவரது வீட்டில் அஞ்சலிக்காக வைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. இன்று மாலை இறுதி சடங்குகள் நடக்க இருக்கிறது. 

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Enduring romance

KAUSALYA SANTHANAM

For over four decades Raadhu has been scripting and directing plays that have withstood the test of time.


COMMITTED TO THEATRE: Thangavelu and M. Saroja

Forty-two plays in 42 years. And Raadhu (S. Radhakrishnan) writes on. He is hard at work on his 43rd play. The playwright-director was recently honoured by the Nungambakkam Cultural Academy with the ``Nataka Siromani," the latest in a string of awards. Raadhu has seen the best in Tamil amateur theatre. Film and stage actor `Danal' K. A. Thangavelu and M. Saroja, `Kathadi' Ramamoorthy, V. Gopalakrishanan and `Navrang' Viswanathan have acted in many of his comedies and family dramas.

``Thangavelu acted in my plays from 1974 till 1994, the year he passed away," says Raadhu. ``The members of our troupe adored him. His sense of timing was extraordinary. He was not only a great actor but a wonderful person as well... His devotion to the stage was such he would insist that you know the lines of each actor, not just your own." Another actor Raadhu admires is Kathadi Ramamoorthy. ``We became friends in the Sixties. `Kalyanathil Galatta' was the first play of mine in which he acted. We were trying to get sabhas to stage it when one of the secretaries said he would put it up only if Kathadi acted in it. The actor immediately agreed to do so which is typical of him. This was at a time when I had not established myself. His commitment to the stage is total."

``Kalyanathil Galatta" was a roaring success. Shot with humour and suspense, the play traced events in a marriage hall from the eve of a wedding to the reception. ``Actor Nagesh gave me the idea while we were attending a janavasam," recalls Raadhu.

Record feat

The play has remained a winner for decades, making it to the small screen too as a serial with Nagesh, Kathadi and Sachchu featuring in it. When it was staged eight times in one day in 1988, the feat got Raadhu into the Limca Book of Records. He made it to the book three more times — for the staging of 10 of his works in one day in 1985, for the inauguration of five of them in one day in 1990, and for a 36-hour marathon when 15 of his plays were presented by various troupes in 1992. But was that not gimmicky? He shakes his head refuting it. ``I wanted to see how well my plays had weathered time."

Strangely, it was the Chinese aggression in 1962 that started it all. When the Reserve Bank of India decided to have a fund raiser for the war effort, Raadhu, who loved watching dramas, came up with ``Jayam Namathe." ``I got to know many artistes acting in Major Sunderarajan's troupe, Cho's mentor Sambu Nataraja Iyer and other stage personalities during my days at the Bank. And met `Thottakara' Viswanathan at the YMIA when I did a course there."


Raadhu

Raadhu formed Geetha Stage in 1966. But when writer Manian established Mayan Theatres, he joined him. ``Manian suggested we ask Thangavelu to act in our production `Saptha Swarangal,' and he agreed."

The playwright has written on varied themes in these four decades. In 1992, he founded the Nataka Academy which spots and honours talented Tamil theatre personalities.

Raadhu revived a set of vintage plays in 1999. ``Now we are planning to stage classics such as `Policekaran Magal' `President Panchaksharam' and Kalki's `En Deivam.' We want to record them on film as there is no documentation of these wonderful dramas," says the veteran who has had his wife Sundari and daughter Priya supporting him in his theatre activities all the way.

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She remembers…

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

Joining veteran yesteryear comedienne M. Saroja on a journey into her eventful past…

Photo: S.R. Raghunathan 
 

ACTOR OF CALIBRE: M. Saroja

The 500-feet scene was okayed in a single take! "It was one lengthy shot. Director Sridhar was holding his handkerchief to his mouth to suppress his laughter. But my husband and I went on," M.Saroja, the veteran actor, relives the moments with a smile. The reference is to the evergreen sequence in 'Kalyana Parisu,' in which K.A.Thangavelu, who plays a compulsive liar in the film, tries to make her believe that he's a writer just returning from a function organised in his honour. Saroja, who plays his wife, has found out the truth, but pretends to be credulous, waiting for the right moment to call his bluff as he goes on about the 'accolades' heaped on him on stage!

To think that the lengthy piece of dialogue involving varied expressions of seriousness, sarcasm, humour and apprehension was done in one stroke is mind boggling! 'Chitralaya' Gopu taught us the dialogue. At the end of the scene, the entire unit clapped for us," Saroja describes the experience.

KAT (that is how she refers to her husband) moulded her into a comedienne of calibre, she contends. "If people refer to us as the best comedy duo after N.S. Krishnan and T.A. Madhuram, he is the reason for it," she muses. Sridhar always appreciated her timing sense, but Thangavelu would say, 'She's ok. But can do better.' "That was because he never wanted me to get complacent. I would laugh a lot on the sets and he would comment, 'You shouldn't laugh. Your portrayals should keep others in stitches.'"

Married life

It was after they had paired in 50-odd films that the two became life partners. Thangavelu was very much her senior in age but it wasn't an issue. "The age difference didn't show. Actually we got married when we were in Madurai for the 100th day celebrations of 'Kalyana Parisu,' at the Murugan Temple there." The two went on to act together in another 250 films!

He insisted she continue with her career after marriage. Those were the days when she was busy acting in three shifts in the films of MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and other top actors such as N.T. Rama Rao.

Saroja's home in T. Nagar, Chennai, has an old world charm about it — welcoming and warm as the lady herself. Varieties of colourful fish, several love birds in a large cage at the entrance and the huge dog in the drawing room enhance the cheerfulness of the ambience. "These are my grandson's pets. He loves them but it's my daughter who takes care of them," she laughs.

Film offers knocked at Saroja's door very early in life. Her elder sister Lakshmiprabha was already in cinema. ("She has acted as MGR's mother in many films.") Her father was also in the field. But the parents had no such ambitions for their second daughter. "In those days acting in films was a stigma. But director Subramaniam came home and convinced my father. The film was 'Geeta Gandhi,'" she says. Saroja played the young mother of Subramaniam's four-year old daughter Padma (The girl who grew up to hold sway in the field of Bharatanatyam needs no introduction). "Funnily I was just about 13 when I played the role," she says. The film never got released, but tinsel town found a promising actor.


Saroja with husband Thangavelu in Kalyana Parisu

From Bharatanatyam and Kathakali to sword-fighting and horse-riding, Saroja learnt all that was considered essential for her profession. Next Modern Theatres called her over for a camera test. "The director, cameraman, sound engineer and Kalaignar Karunanidhi, [whose 'Manthiri Kumari had just been released], were all there. But I was neither jittery nor self-conscious," she remembers. She was selected — 'Sarvadhikari' was her first release. Soon Saroja went on to play several second heroine roles.

Her tryst with Thangavelu, which began with 'Nagapanchami,' catapulted her to the top comedienne slot. "My husband's passion for the Tamil language was such that he simply refused to act in other languages. 'You do it if you wish,' he would say." Saroja went on to act in more than 20 Telugu films — most of them were with Relangi, a top comedian in Telugu.

She proudly recalls an incident during the shooting of 'Thaen Nilavu' in Kashmir where Thangavelu's presence of mind came to the fore. When they had some time to spare, the couple went boating. As Thangavelu was rowing and also eating from a plate of snacks beside him, one of the oars slipped from his hand and fell into the water. "How do I use just one?" he said and before Saroja realised what was happening, threw away the other oar too! They were in the middle of the lake with none nearby! "He picked up two plates, one in each hand and began rowing using them as oars! Director Sridhar and cinematographer Vincent were on tenterhooks," she recalls. 

"It's more than a decade since KAT died, but I still miss him. Otherwise I'm contented with my lot. My son-in-law, daughter Sumathi and grandson are my support. Can you believe it if I say I've never cooked a meal in my life?" she laughs.

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